Air & Water Technologies Corporation
Air & Water Technologies Corporation
U.S. Highway 22 West and Station Road
Branchburg, New Jersey 08876
Fax: (908) 685-4120
Incorporated: 1987 as R-C Holding Inc.
Sales: $657.5 million
Stock Exchanges: American
Air & Water Technologies Corporation is one of the leading companies in environmental treatment and services. Since its incorporation in 1987 as R-C Holding Inc., it has expanded into many diverse areas of environmental management—including the reduction of air pollution, recycling, and the handling of dangerous wastes—through various acquisitions and mergers with other companies in the field. According to the company’s mission statement, Air & Water Technologies “strives to protect the natural environment, provide a challenging workplace for employees, and create value for stockholders.”
R-C Acquisitions, Inc., was formed in 1987 by Eckardt C. Beck with the help of Odyssey Partners, Allen & Company Incorporated, and some affiliates of First Chicago Corporation as a means of acquiring Research Cottrell, Inc., an engineering and construction company. After the acquisition, the company retained the name Research Cottrell but changed its focus to environmental treatment. The following year, it acquired Zecco, Inc., a Northboro, Massachusetts, firm specializing in hazardous waste cleanup. Shortly afterward, Zecco was merged with another of Research Cottrell’s subsidiaries, Metcalf & Eddy, Inc.—which dealt with water and sewage treatment and industrial waste problems—to form Metcalf & Eddy Companies, Inc. (MECI).
Toward the end of 1988, Research Cottrell made yet another acquisition through another of its subsidiaries, Power Applications & Manufacturing Company (PAMCO), Inc. This time the prize was Waukesha Engine Servicenter and Waukesha Engine Servicenter of Arizona— collectively known as WESI—companies involved in the sale of generating sets, pumping equipment, and compressors. WESI had customers in many different areas, including wastewater treatment and the gas and oil industry.
In June 1989 Research Cottrell changed its name to Air & Water Technologies Corporation. Air & Water Technologies continued its program of acquisitions in the environmental control field, with the same month’s purchase— through the Metcalf & Eddy subsidiary—of various assets of the hazardous waste firms H. G. Anderson Equipment Corporation and Anderson Testing Company, Inc. A few months later, again through Metcalf & Eddy, Air & Water Technologies acquired certain assets of YWC (formerly known as York Wastewater Consultants) Inc.’s operation and maintenance service division and also the outstanding common stock of YWC Northeast. The YWC companies provided wastewater treatment services to cities in the northeastern United States.
Air & Water Technologies acquisitions in 1990 included Petrolgroup, Inc., and Regenerative Environmental Equipment Company (REECO), Inc. The latter company, based in Morris Plains, New Jersey, produced incineration technology used in the destruction of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other toxic substances found in polluted air. The REECO acquisition was part of the strategy of Air & Water Technologies to take advantage of the stricter air pollution controls put into effect by the passage of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. The company also entered a joint venture in plastic recycling with Hammers Plastic Recycling of Iowa Falls, Iowa. As part of the project, Air & Water Technologies bought a ten percent share in Hammers. That same year, the French Compagnie Generale des Eaux (CGE)—the world’s largest water company, providing water for 33 million customers throughout Europe— purchased 16 percent of Air & Water Technologies for a price of $100 million.
Also in 1990, Air & Water Technologies sued the Puerto Rican Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, or PRASA, for $31 million in delinquent payments. PRASA, however, fought back. A government affiliate of PRASA performed an audit of the disputed contract, questioning “up to $39,988,200 of billings for possible technical violations of equipment procurement procedures.” Though the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit dismissed PRASA’s appeal, PRASA asked the United States Supreme Court to review that dismissal, and their request was granted.
Despite troubles with PRASA and a few other projects, at the beginning of the 1990s it appeared that Air & Water Technologies was ready to put most of its expansion expenditures behind it and concentrate on gaining profitable clients. By this time the company comprised three major subsidiaries: Research Cottrell, Metcalf & Eddy, and Residuals Management. Research Cottrell focused on air and thermal pollution issues and provided services in the areas of regulatory assistance, consulting, permitting, and research and development.
Metcalf & Eddy served as the water and solid waste department of Air & Water Technologies. Like Research Cottrell, it provided regulatory assistance, consulting, and permitting services to its clients. Metcalf & Eddy also performed waste minimization, sludge management, solid waste management, as well as groundwater and hazardous waste remediation.
Residuals Management produces recycled plastic products from industrial and consumer sources and handles asbestos and lead removal, disposal, and abatement.
In addition to working through its three major subsidiaries, Air & Water Technologies serves its customers through five regional centers in the United States—Central, East, New England, South, and West—and a separate division devoted to its clients in the federal government. In 1991, approximately 44 percent of the AWT’s revenues came from contracts with federal, state, and municipal governmental agencies. The company’s international division provides services in 44 countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Canada. It has seen particular growth in the European market during the early 1990s due to the fall of communist governments in Eastern Europe.
Research Cottrell Companies; Metcalf & Eddy Companies, Inc.; Residuals Management Companies.
Roberts, Johnnie L., “Cottrell Agrees to Buyout Bid of $43 a Share,” Wall Street Journal, June 9, 1987; “Plastic Recycling Joint Venture,” Chemicalweek, February 21, 1990; Toy, Stewart, “France’s Water Giant Takes a Gulp of New Business,” Business Week, July 30, 1990; “Research Cottrell Buys REECO,” Chemicalweek, November 14, 1990; “Nalco Signs NOx Deal,” Chemical Marketing Reporter, May 20, 1991; Air & Water Technologies Corporation 1991 Annual Report, Branchburg, Air & Water Technologies Corporation, 1991.